Female Film Photographers You Should Know: Margaux Manchon
Margaux is a fantastic female film photographer born in Épinal, a small town in the north-east of France and now living in the busy city of Paris since a few years ago.
When she is not drawing her introspective illustrations and comic strips, she dedicates herself to creating unique and fictional worlds through her magical portraits with her Canon FtB camera.
Margaux undoubtedly turns poetry into illustrated images.
♦ How would you introduce yourself to someone who just met you?
I’m Margaux Manchon, a french dreaming girl working in a youth publishing house as an editor. I have several lives: I draw some sad and humorous draws and strips, I also write and I take analogue pictures.
♦ What is the memory that you most fondly remember from your childhood?
I would definitely say that I remember fondly the times when I played alone as a child. The truth is that I could say that I looked a lot like the character of Matilda (the main character in Roald Dah’s books). I spent all my time alone with my books and lost myself in my own imaginary adventures.
♦ Who were the most influential people during your teens and how did they influence you?
I was mostly influenced by fictional characters.: I was very marked by the animated short film Vincent from Tim Burton, as much by the character design as by this very gothic, macabre universe. Also of course, my forever love, Harry Potter, who has been a very comforting companion, giving me hope, making me meet humor in words. Looking back, it made me realise the impact that a book could have on young people. The story of JK Rowling was very impactful, thinking that we could extract a fantastic world from difficult situations, it was (not necessarily fleeing reality) but transforming it, making symbols out of it. The Depression Metaphor with Dementors is a simple and strong example..
♦ How did you get in the world of analogue photography?
I have to say that I have always been attracted to analogue photography. I have always had a desire to recreate in detail those mental images I had in my head but at that time, I never felt like taking the step.
A few years ago I started posing for other people’s shoots but little by little I became more interested in being behind the camera’s lens. I felt an irremediable desire to create my own universe and that world definitely had to be using analogue film. I like the fragility, the poetry, the awkwardness of the film. Notion of unique. In french we talk about Art Brut: an art without technical aspect. That spontaneity and imperfection is precisely what I am looking for.
♦How would you describe the photography you do? What is your work focused on?
As in my drawings, there is this concept of introspective work, but above all I place great emphasis on the escape from reality to the imaginary.
In my portraits I love to tell stories. My intention has never been to portray that person as he or she is in reality, but rather to make that person part of a fictional world. That is why in all my photographs I play with light, colours, emotive poses, double exposure, and unique places in order to convey emotions, sensations and thus transform reality into a completely different world.
♦ Are you working on any photographic project at the moment?
At the moment what I’m doing is continuing with the series of photographs I’m posting on instagram. My latest series Acid Rain, I play with neon lights, different plastics, black tones, mirrors as well as experimenting with different forms of the human body. I’d say that this series it’s a rather dark vision of the unconscious, something that torments, burns, engulfs everything.
Along the lines of the series I have mentioned, I am also working on a poem to accompany this last series in which I describe a dystopian future in which everything has become absorbed into itself.
♦ Is there any photographic project that you would like to do but have not done yet?
I would very much like to propose an interpretation of Ophélia (fictional character from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare) who has been largely exploited by the romantic current, an image of a woman frozen in water, half-dead, in the middle of the reeds and the flowers.
I would also like to start taking nude photography. I imagine a static, dehumanised and depersonified atmosphere where I recreate different fictional worlds.
♦ Which camera and which film do you use the most in your photography and why?
My first camera was the Canon FTb, I found it in a store a bit by chance. This 35mm camera is ridiculously heavy, all metal finish, completely manual and battery independent. When I saw that camera in the shop, I fell in love with it and couldn’t resist not taking it home. I have tried other cameras like the Canon AV-1 but the truth is that I didn’t feel the same attraction, there is something that still hasn’t convinced me.
As for film, I love the Ilford HP5 film for the intensity of the blacks and I also love the CineStill 800t film especially when I work with neon lights, lower lights and a bit more dark and gloomy atmospheres. I love the results I get with the CineStill 800t film and it inspires me even more for my next projects.
♦ Who are your biggest influences?
A whole bunch of trends and authors have influenced me in my life: surrealism, expressionism, cubism, the poetry of Paul Eluard, gothic novels, the universe of Tim Burton, Edward Gorey…
I have an inclination for twisted bodies, quirky minds, poetry that goes to the essential. I think everything is linked: photography, writing, drawing, art and we can be inspired by everything. In photography, I have no particular influence, except the works of Man Ray or Dora Maar, I love the idea of a surrealist photography linked to the emotional and melancholy part of life.
However, I believe that I am still in a learning phase and have a long way to go. I usually share on my instagram account artists that inspire me, there is a huge world of talented people and new ideas that make me think of new angles and approaches.
♦ What’s the best advice you would give yourself when you started in the world of film photography?
Dare to dare and trust yourself and others. Technicalities must be set aside, if we stay true to ourselves, I think we can succeed in bringing our mental images to life.
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